Savatage - Gutter Ballet
Heavy Metal with Symphonic elements
11 songs (52:25)
Release year: 1989
Savatage, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

After impressing both fans and critics alike with 1987's Hall Of The Mountain King, Savatage went back to work trying to create a different sort of album, one that blended melody and symphonic elements with heavy metal. Gutter Ballet succeeded in this to some extent, though while many of the songs themselves are great, they do not flow together nearly as well as on the previous album.

I really like the opener Of Rage And War, it gets things moving along nicely with catchy bass and guitar work and the high pitched vocals of Jon Oliva. Oliva really shows his vocal range here. This first track makes me think that this will be a continuation of Hall Of The Mountain King. The title track is up next, and starts things off more slowly with piano and drums, leading up to one of the most melodic songs that Savatage have really succeeded at. This is a very memorable track and one of my favorites from the album. Its also a longer song at over 6 minutes, but keeps things moving. Temptation Revelation is simply guitar virtuoso Criss Oliva's at work, backed my some piano and other more symphonic elements. It's good of course, but a little puzzling as to why it’s right there. When The Crowds Are Gone also starts off with the piano, sounding a bit like a ballad. The guitars soon come in with another heavy and melodic riff that picks the pace up a bit, but even so this is a pretty slow song that sets a more melancholy tone. Silk And Steel is another guitar-centered instrumental track, this time an upbeat acoustic piece that is nice but once again doesn't do much for the album as a whole. She's In Love is a weaker track on the album, sounding much like filler with the repeated chorus and simple guitar work; it's really more of a throwback to the hair metal sound of Fight For The Rock. Hounds makes things a bit more interesting with layered guitars and calmer interludes. It's a relatively well thought out song that is pretty enjoyable albeit a bit too long. The Unholy and Mentally Yours are a couple of decent heavier tracks, though the latter lacks the same type of energy that is present earlier in the album. The Unholy has some really great guitar work and a lot of energy that can be felt throughout the entire song. Summer Rain is an excellent ballad that has always been one of my favorites from this band, creating a melancholy atmosphere that you can really feel. Once again there's nothing very technical going on here, just some great melody. The opening riffs of Thorazine Shuffle catch my attention, sounding like a weird heavy metal take on opera music. The song continues in this manner, building a big atmosphere with melodic guitars and the chanting in the background. If the chorus was a bit stronger this could have been a really great song.

This is certainly not the band's worst effort, though definitely not their best either. The energy and emotion that can be felt in songs like Of Rage And War and Gutter Ballet is great, and likewise some of the calmer tracks contrast them nicely. However, the instrumental tracks just do not fit for me and a few others just aren't that interesting. The only really weak track I can point to is She's In Love, though the overall arrangement of the songs sometimes left me confused as well. Personally I liked it better when the band started off with energy and ended on a calm note. Other than those few gripes this is a great album with some really memorable songs.

Killing Songs :
Of Rage And War, Gutter Ballet, Hounds, The Unholy, Summer Rain
Khelek quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Savatage that we have reviewed:
Savatage - Fight For The Rock reviewed by Khelek and quoted 68 / 100
Savatage - Power Of The Night reviewed by Khelek and quoted 92 / 100
Savatage - The Dungeons Are Calling reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Savatage - Sirens reviewed by Khelek and quoted 90 / 100
Savatage - Hall of the Mountain King reviewed by Brent and quoted Classic
To see all 7 reviews click here
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